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  3. Privacy Law and Social Networks

Privacy Law and Social Networks (BLAW20002)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2017
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codeBLAW20002
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

The limited protection of personal information for those who engages with online social networks (eg Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) has provoked a range of legal policy and law reform debates. This subject will delve deeply into the question of privacy law and social networks in an effort to explain and critique the current legal position as well as considering a range of proposals for improvements in the law.

  • Introduction: privacy in a networked environment;
  • Precursors: pamphlets, poetry, diaries, letters, biography, newspapers, photography, cinema, telephone, video and the rise of privacy;
  • Traditional legal responses: the development of common law and statutory doctrine centred around misuse of private information;
  • Traditional legal responses: the development of common law and statutory doctrine centred around intrusion;
  • Post-war pockets of specialised privacy law including data protection, surveillance devices, spam, do not call register and accompanying institutional innovations;
  • Modern trends and controversies: rise of an online networked society and challenges to privacy, problems of multi-jurisdictional laws;
  • Traditional law in the circumstances of the internet - limits of incrementalism?
  • Law reform proposals in Australia (including for a statutory cause of action for invasion of privacy, for protection against surveillance in 'public places', for reform of data protection law) - sufficient to address current challenges?
  • Other jurisdictions (eg US and proposals for an online privacy code and 'do not track' register, Europe and the proposed 'right to be forgotten'); and
  • Imagining the future - a limited role for law?

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this subject students should:

  • Recognise that privacy and social networks have various legal connection points;
  • Appreciate the multiple ways in which privacy may be constrained and protected by the law, including in the context of social networks; and
  • Understand the basic features of the legal treatment of privacy specifically in the context of social networks.

Generic skills

On completion of the subject the student should have:

  • Capacity for self-directed learning, specifically the ability to plan work and use time effectively;
  • Cognitive and analytical skills;
  • Ability to speak about complex ideas in a clear and cogent manner;
  • An awareness of diversity and plurality;
  • Write essays which develop structured argumentation; and
  • Capacity to judge the worth of their own arguments.

Last updated: 20 October 2017